Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

New principal takes the reins at Spokane’s St. Patrick School

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Sept. 9, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Julie Simmons is the new principal of St. Patrick School in Spokane. (IR photo)

Spokane’s St. Patrick School has a new principal.

Following a particularly difficult 2009-2010 school year, during which efforts little short of heroic kept the school from closing, St. Patrick’s pastor, Father Kenny St. Hillaire, and the school’s board hired Julie Simmons, a veteran teacher and administrator who moved from the Northport School District to take the position at St. Patrick.

“I had been offered a position with the Spokane public schools,” Simmons said, “and then God had me get up early one morning and go to the diocesan website. Here was this position posted, and I just really wanted to be in a Catholic school. By being in a Catholic school I think I’m going to have greater latitude to do some things particularly related to religious education and some of those morality things that you can’t delve into in the public sector. That has great appeal to me.”

Julie Simmons earned a B.A. in K-8 Education and an M.A. as a Reading Specialist from Central Washington University. She holds a Washington State Administrative Credential, Principal K-12, and a Washington State Professional Education Certificate.

Just prior to taking the position at St. Patrick School she worked in various administrative positions in the Northport School District. She also holds several prestigious honors, including the U.S. News & World Report Bronze Level Award for both 2008 and 2009.

Earlier in her career, Simmons taught in the Northport School District, in schools in Moses Lake, Wash., and in Ellensburg, Wash.

St. Patrick “has a lot of appeal to me because of its rich history, and I love the surroundings and the fact that the (Missionaries of Charity) are here,” she said. “Also, it has such a dedicated faculty. I’m also attracted by the fact that the school has had some real struggles, and I am definitely a change agent. I like this kind of a challenge. We’re going to aggressively go after enrollment, and I want to get our alumni association back and active.”

Father St. Hillaire said: “One of the aspects of Mrs. Simmons that impresses me the most is her ability and eagerness to think ‘outside the box’ and to come up with innovative solutions to perennial problems. She also has an excellent track record when it comes to building relationships, fostering a sense of community, and collaborating with teachers, families, alumni, and benefactors toward the growth of the school.”

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